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JC lay still and pretended to be oblivious as his latest mistake climbed out of his bed and collected her clothes from the floor. He lay waiting to hear his front door close behind her before breathing a sigh of relief.

Clear my eyes it’s the morning after

Did I fall in love or did I find disaster?

Take a second just to breath

I pick my heart up off my sleeve, yeah

 

There she goes and I know she knows

By the way she eased out on her tipey toes

Skip the breakfast tea for two

We made no plans to rendezvous, yeah

 

Someone for everyone but no one for me

Constantly searching for the love I need to build my world around, around

I’ll be the lonely one until I find the one I wanna build my world around

So bring the arms of love until I find the one I wanna build my world around

Rolling over onto his back he stared up at the ceiling and draped an arm across his forehead. Another one night stand with another woman he'd met only the night before. This was becoming a habit. He was looking for love in all the wrong places, even though he knew he’d already found it, and then let it go.

For six months he’d been mindlessly hitting the clubs, picking up women and sleeping with them just a few hours later. He’d be ashamed of himself if he didn’t know the reason he was doing it. He was trying to fill a void in his life. But it wasn’t getting him any closer to getting over her, as much as he told himself it would… eventually.

She was Harley. She was his someone. But he let her walk away without putting up a fight and he’d hated himself everyday since. He knew he’d be miserable for all eternity if he didn’t at least try to find her. But she could be anywhere. Obviously when they broke up they made no deep and sincere promise to each other to stay in touch. It was too hard to even contemplate them ever being friends after he broke her heart. So he wouldn’t even know where to begin his search. But he wanted to try… he needed to try. Maybe if he could find her and say how he felt it wouldn’t be too late to get her back. Yet on the other hand, if she told him she was getting on with her life and that he should do the same, maybe he could.

He’d tried to find Harley's qualities in the other women he met but none of them ever came close to measuring up. Not that she was perfect because she wasn’t, not by a long shot. But she was her and no one did her better than she did. 

His head fell to the side and his eyes connected to the picture beside his alarm clock. It was his only remaining picture of her. He hadn’t been able to bring himself to hide it away like the others. It was his motivation for getting up in a morning. Harley had always been that for him while they were together. Whenever he found it hard to get out of bed, she always had her own special way of waking him up. It usually consisted of a cold glass of water, but it was her way none the less.

Memories of Harley filled his head bringing the trace of a smile to his lips. But just as quickly as he remembered the good times, the break up sprang to mind. He remembered the painful look on her face, he remembered the tears she cried and he remembered just watching her walk away all like it was yesterday, and it was all his fault. If he’d just said how he felt in his heart, if he hadn’t been so scared of committing to her, then she’d still be there with him now. But he wasn’t ready to have those feelings, he wasn’t ready to admit loving her and it took losing her to make him face up to it. But isn’t that usually the way?

Lazily he hauled his stinking ass out of his bed and flicked on the stereo as he headed for the shower. He needed to wash the smell of his evening companion off his skin, and to make himself somewhat resemble human. But it wasn’t going to be so simple when the images of his night’s activities ran over in his head.

Standing in the shower thought’s of Harley stayed in his mind. While they were together there wasn’t one morning that she didn’t join him in the shower, there wasn’t one day that she didn’t pack him a healthy lunch, even if he didn’t eat it, and there wasn’t an evening she spent away from him. Those were all the things he took for granted while she was around because they were such a regular occurrence. But they were things he missed now.

As he stood there, letting the water run over his face, a song came on the radio which said everything he wanted to say to Harley if he had the chance. He closed his eyes. He could smell the strawberry shampoo she washed her hair with, the perfumed lotion she rubbed into her skin after every shower, the vanilla body spray she applied. He could taste the minty toothpaste she used, the cherry lip-gloss she wore. He could hear her laugh, he could visualize her green eyes sparkling, he could feel her blonde hair gliding through his fingers, and her body pressed against his. His eyes shot open like he’d been stabbed. He needed to call her.

Without thinking about it, he jumped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around his waist and searched his bedroom for his cell phone. When he found it, he searched through the memory for Harley’s number. He’d called it once or twice since they’d parted ways, but it was when he’d had particularly bad nights and a skin full of rum. But that was only a week after the break up and he hadn’t been coping well at all. He still wasn’t coping well, but he’d found a different way to deal with it. Finding her number, which he forced himself to forget from memory, he hit call on his phone without thinking twice, until he heard a voice the other end.

“Hello?” The voice questioned a second time through the speaker. “Hello?” A pause. “Look asshole, if you’re gonna call me at least have the decency to talk to me.”

“Harley?” His voice was meek.

“Sorry buddy, you got the wrong sister. This is Paris. Are you her new boyfriend?”

His mouth became dry instantly at the mention of a new boyfriend, “No.”

“I thought it’d be too good to be true that she’d be dating again. So that begs the question, who are you?”

“Nobody.”

“Oh nobody huh? Well nobody, do you have a message you want me to give her?”

“No.”

“Okay, so I don’t know who you are or how you got this number, but you asked for Harley and given that I’m your only link to her right now hadn’t you better give me a name I can pass on.” He heard her say down the line as he pulled the phone from his ear and hung up.

With a deep breath JC dropped onto the bed. He’d been sure it was Harley on the phone. It had been her cell number. But he remembered her and all her sister’s sounding alike on the other end of a phone because he’d called the family home more than once and thought he was talking to his girlfriend only to find out he’d been speaking to Liberty, Justice, Mercedes or Paris instead. Plus he knew that girl on the other end of the line had no reason to lie, after all, she didn’t know whom she was talking to. So Harley must’ve changed her number.

His instinct had failed him. True, he could’ve left a message for Harley with Paris but he wanted to find her and speak to her himself. He needed to tell her how he felt, not pass it on through someone else. It was going to be difficult to say without expecting a slap in return, he knew that, but he also knew that if he wanted to go on in life with no regrets he had to do it, no matter what the final outcome. His only problem now was to find her.

~~~~~*~~~~~

JC pulled up on the road opposite the house Harley had shared with her sisters and parents before they met and watched. His intention had been to march up to the front door and ask for her. But if her number had changed he wasn’t sure what else had. So decided as he’d pulled into the street that he’d sit and watch a while before jumping in feet first, like with the phone call.

It was a good half an hour before anyone showed, and even then it wasn’t anyone he recognised. With a sigh he started his car engine, but before he could pull off he spotted one of her sisters walking down the street toward where he was parked. Immediately he shut his engine off again and jumped out of the car.

“Justice.” He acknowledged her as he stood in her path.

She stopped walking and her kind eyes met the pain in his, “She’s doing worse than you. Of course she’d never admit it. But I see it.” She said before he even had a chance to ask about her sister.

“Is she still…” He trailed off as his eyes wandered over the road to the house.

“She moved out not long after you two… you know.” She said, not daring herself to say it. He turned to face her again. “You hurt her Josh, and she’s never recovered.” She stepped forward and reached up to stroke his arm. “This is going to be hard to hear but I think if you see her now you’ll just be putting the nails in her coffin.”

He nodded to show he understood. “I can wait for as long as she needs. But, when she’s ready, can you tell her that I have to talk to her?”

“I’m not sure that time will ever come Josh. Maybe it’ll just be better for you if you just go on with your life.” She told him honestly.

“I can’t, not until I tell her.”

“You missed your chance to stake a claim on her. You really should just let things be now. Don’t dwell on it. She knew you loved her, deep down she did. But your lack of commitment hurt her more than you walking out. It’s easier for both of you this way.”

“You don’t think she’d want closure?”

“I think she’s already got it.” She nodded wearing a sympathetic look.

~~~~~*~~~~~

Once JC had disappeared from sight Justice rushed across the road to get inside the house and grabbed her nearest sister. “Is Harley home yet?”

Liberty nodded, “She got in from work about an hour ago.”

“Where is she?”

Liberty frowned, “In her room, like usual. Why?”

“I need to talk to you.” She stated dragging her by her arm into the lounge.

“Jus, what is going on? Why are you acting weirder than usual?”

“I just saw JC.”

Her eyes widened, “Her ex JC?”

She rolled her eyes, “Do you know any other JC’s?”

“Where was he?”

“Across the street. He just popped up out of nowhere.”

“What did he want?”

“Isn’t that obvious? He wanted to see Harley, said he had something he had to tell her.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him she didn’t live here anymore and that she didn’t want to see him.”

“Well do you think he’ll come back?”

“I don’t know. But we’re going to have to keep an eye out in case he does.”

“Damn, I thought he was gone for good.” She said staring off into space.

“Me too. But it looks like he’s reminiscing, and the last thing Harley needs right now is to see him. We don’t want her going back into depression when we’re just getting her over him.”

“Shouldn’t that be her decision?”

“No. We’re protecting her.”

“I dunno Justice, she still really loves him and I don’t think it’s up to us to take him away from her if she wants him back.”

“Talk like that will get her hurt again. Do you want to be the one to pull her back from the brink of suicide?”

“You’re being a tad dramatic Justice. She cried for a month straight. She didn’t try jumping off a building.”

“JC took her heart, played with it for his own amusement and then tossed it away at the first sign of a grown up relationship. Harley does not need him messing with her head again.” Justice said in a lowered voice.

“What are you two whispering about?” Harley asked as she walked into the lounge without warning.

Justice looked at her younger sister and instantly thought of a cover story, “We were thinking of going out tonight.”

“No we weren’t.” Liberty disagreed showing her sister she wasn’t prepared to go along with the lie. “I think we should tell her the truth.”

The eldest sister sighed, “We were arranging a blind date for you.” She said only to get a dirty look thrown at her from Liberty.

“Come on you guys, I’ve told you I’m not ready to start dating again.” Harley sighed taking a seat on the opposite side of the room.

“Harley, it’s been months since you and Josh split up. It’s time we got you back in the game.”

“I don’t want to be back in the game. I don’t care about the game.”

Silence fell on the room and Liberty took the opportunity to ask her bigger sister a burning question, “Harley, would you get back with JC?”

“Liberty!” Justice immediately spat out.

Harley frowned, “Calm down Justice.” She told one sister before turning her attention to the other, “What’s made you ask that Lib?”

She shrugged, “Just a question.”

The heartbroken woman sighed, “It’s weird. If you had asked me three months ago I’d have told you straight out, no. But now… I’m not sure. It would depend on a lot of things.”

“For example?”

“Lib, Harley doesn’t want to go through all this. Leave it alone.” Justice quickly intervened.

Harley frowned, “You’re awful jumpy tonight Justice. Is everything okay with you?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. I just don’t want you upset.”

“Well thank you for your concern but I’m quite capable of telling Liberty no if I’m not comfortable with the conversation.”

“I just think there’s no reason for her to drudge up the past. You and JC aren’t getting back together, so what’s the point of talking about it?”

“Well, you never know.” Liberty said, again threatening the secret between them.

“No Lib, Justice is right. I can’t see JC and I getting back together. He’s probably over me already.” Harley’s heavy heart finally admitted.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”

“Do you know something that you’re not telling me?” She quizzed.

“JC came to see you earlier.” Liberty let the cat out of the bag.

Justice sighed and dropped her eyes to her lap. “You just had to tell her. You couldn’t just leave him in the past.”

“She had a right to know. It’s up to Harley to make any decisions regarding Josh, not you. You can’t protect us all for the rest of our lives. If we’re going to make mistakes, you have to let us make them.”

“Not when they’re the same mistakes!”

“Stop it you two!” Harley shouted, bringing a silence upon them. “Liberty, you’re sure JC was here?”

“Yes, Justice spoke to him not 5 minutes ago when he was parked out on the street.”

“Is that true?” Justice hesitated before she regretfully nodded. “And you weren’t going to tell me?”

“I thought it would be the last thing you wanted.” Justice replied.

“How do you know what I want? Liberty is right; this is my choice to make. You had no right to think you could make it for me.”

“I was just trying to… You were just getting over him. The last thing I wanted was to take you back to square one again.”

“This isn’t about what you want. It’s about me, and I don’t need you to keep secrets to save me. I need you to be my sister and just catch me if I fall.”

“I don’t want to have to catch you, I’d rather just keep you from it all together.”

“Well you can’t so I’d appreciate it if you just stay out of my business.” She said storming from the room.

~~~~~*~~~~~

Paris walked in from work and headed straight to the kitchen where she found Harley sat alone. “Get this…” She started throwing her purse on the counter top, “Some guy called me this morning asking for you, but the minute I asked for his name he hung up on me.”

The other woman’s eyes widened, “Did you recognise his voice?”

Her brow creased, “Would I have said ‘some guy’ if I recognised the voice?”

Harley got to her feet and grabbed her sister by the hands, “This is extremely important Paris, I need you to try and think if you know that voice.”

“I don’t think I did.”

“Well think harder.” She demanded.

“What is with you?” The youngest sister asked breaking her hands free.

Harley shook her head, “Nothing.” She sighed. “I just think maybe it was JC.”

Paris understood immediately, “Oh.”

 

~~~~~ That Night ~~~~~

JC walked into the club he visited regularly, ordered his usual shot of rum and coke before making his way to a seat. He was alone. He was always alone in arriving, it was leaving he had no self-control of being alone in. Women would just come up and start talking to him. Maybe there was something in the way he sat drinking his life away that they thought he needed saving. He did need saving, just not by them. These women wouldn’t talk about anything particularly interesting, and there’s where the comparisons started.

Harley always had interesting things to say, well maybe it wasn’t what she said but more how she said it that made him think it was. There was something in her voice that captured his attention. But these women that threw themselves at him night after night were just after a part of him he’d given to Harley a long time ago, and had never got back. It wasn’t their fault though. They didn’t know he was so lost in his own heartbreak that he couldn’t see straight. But it wasn’t his fault either. Actually, that wasn’t strictly true. He never turned them away because they were trying to get from him the one thing he didn’t have to give and he never said he wasn’t interested because his heart belonged somewhere else, but he always escorted them home.

Sitting at his table, which was set back from the dance floor, he watched the few women dancing. He was taking no particular interest because he was only there to pass some time drowning his sorrows so he could sleep when he got into bed.

Hearing Justice say earlier that Harley had got her closure had sent his life into an out of control spiral of misery. All he wanted to do was curl up in a ball and wait until his death. But he just had to settle for the next best thing, drinking himself to it.

Downing his alcoholic beverage in one, he ordered a double. If he was going to do this, he was going to do it right. But as he waited for his drink his eyes fell on the club door at the exact moment she walked in. His heart started to race, his palms became sweaty and all the people surrounding him seemed to fade away. She looked amazing, but then she always did. It was something she took pride in, especially if she was going out. She didn’t seem to have changed much since he’d last seen her, it had only been six months but for the life of him he didn’t remember her being as attractive as she was.

She headed straight to the dance floor like she always did when they went out. She always loved to dance, and he loved to watch her. But watching her wasn’t the same as actually being there on the floor when she lost control in the music playing. As she bounced around to the song playing his involuntary smile appeared and he found himself wondering what would happen if he went over and danced with her. But that thought soon disappeared as he watched her sister join her. All the memories of that afternoon came flooding back immediately, and the smile dropped from his face. She’s over you. Get over her already. His mind screamed. But he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He had to talk to her. He had to hear her tell him to leave her alone.

“You know her?” The bartender asked disturbing him as his eyes explored every single movement she made.

 “I used to.” Came his simple response.

~~~~~*~~~~~

He was still sat watching her as her sister finally pulled her off the dance floor and they headed to the bar. He knew she’d be ordering Schnapps; it was her favourite drink, and one that she could drink plenty off without it having much of an effect on her. That’s the moment he remembered the song that he’d heard playing that morning while he’d been in the shower and a plan began to form in his head. He knew he couldn’t just rush over to her and declare his undying love. He needed the perfect words, and a unique way, to tell her how he felt.

Sitting in his quiet little corner he played out everything in his head, and then began to put it into action. While she was preoccupied struggling to get served at the bar, he made his way over to the DJ box and put in a request.

~~~~~*~~~~~

As discreet as he could JC dodged past the bodies surrounding him, keeping his eye on Harley as she danced. She hadn’t seen him yet and he planned to keep it that way until he was ready to be seen. But it wasn’t long before that time came.

As he heard the intro to his request JC stepped onto the dance floor and caught up to her, as she was about to leave it. He gently grabbed her hand encouraging her to turn and see who was preventing her from making her desired move. Her sad eyes immediately met his and her jaw visibly dropped but before she could speak he gently placed his forefinger over her lips and began singing along with the words to the song.

I pretend that I’m glad you went away

These four walls closing more everyday

And I’m dying inside and nobody knows it but me

Like a clown I put on show

The pain is real even if nobody knows

And I’m crying inside and nobody knows it but me

Her stomach was jumping with nerves and she felt breathless, like she’d just completed a marathon as silent uncontrollable tears cascaded down her face hearing the words of the song through JC.

When she’d left the day they’d split up it had been playing in the car as she drove home and since then she couldn’t count how many times she’d played it while she lay on her bed just listening to the lyrics wishing it was him singing them to her. But now it was real.

She couldn’t breath with the overwhelming happiness she felt. She couldn’t force her eyes away from his face. He’d finally allowed her to see all the love he held for her in his eyes, and it touched her much more than she expected it to. She’d dreamed of the day they’d meet again. But never did she think it would be as emotional as it was.

Why didn’t I say the things I needed to say?

How could I let my Angel get away?

Now my world is just tumbling down

I can say it so clearly but you’re nowhere around

Her hand intertwined with his and she found herself remembering how safe his strong, but gentle, hands made her feel no matter how much drama was going on in her life. He still had that ability settle her stomach and make her feel protected even now when she so desperately wanted to hate him for all the pain he’d put her through, but she couldn’t hate the one man who made her feel like she belonged.

Slowly she moved her hands up his arms to land around his neck. She needed to keep a hold of him to convince herself it was real, that he was there and spilling his heart to her. She needed to know that this wasn’t just a fairytale but her dream come to life. The only trouble was that as real as his body was pressed against hers was how certain she was that any minute she’d wake up and it’d all be just a vague memory.

The nights are lonely, the days are so sad

I just keep thinking about the love that we had

And I’m missing you and nobody knows it but me

He allowed his hands to slide around to her back and gently he pulled her closer to his body as he continued to sing in her ear. Feeling her so close after months without her was like a drug. His head swam as her scent found its way to her nose and his body reacted to her fingers playing with the nape of his neck. He felt like he was floating high above everything that existed and his mind couldn’t keep a hold on reality. This was what it was like to be in love, and it was a good thing, he knew that now. Taking a deep breath he pulled away from her slightly to look down upon her face and when he noticed her crying his hand instantly went up to cup her face before he wiped away the tears with his thumb.

I carry your smile when I’m broken in two

And I’m nobody without someone like you

I’m trembling inside and nobody knows it but me

I lie awake; it’s a quarter past three

I’m screaming at night as if I thought you’d hear me

Yeah my heart is calling you and nobody knows it but me

 

How blue can I get? You could ask my heart

But like a jigsaw puzzle it’s been torn all apart

A million words couldn’t say just how I feel

A million years from now you know that I’ll be loving you still

 

The nights are lonely, the days are so sad

I just keep thinking about the love that we had

And I’m missing you and nobody knows it but me

 

Tomorrow morning I’m hitting the dusty road

Gonna find you wherever, ever you might go

And I’m gonna unload my heart

And hope you come back to me

“I love you Harley. I always have.” He leaned in and whispered in her ear as the song wound to a close.

Her eyes smiled, “I love you too. But you hurt me again Joshua Scott Chasez and I will kill you.” She told him before tip toeing and forcing her mouth on his.


© bentley76@blueyonder.co.uk 2003